Best ways to get your groceries delivered
A major blow against the original Amazon Fresh rollout was its ridiculous annual fee of $299. Because, duh. But now that it’s a monthly $14.99 tacked onto the cost of Prime membership, it’s become a more reasonable option. Amazon’s competitive advantage is its enormous inventory that is not limited to just food. This is either great or bad, depending on your personal shopping habits. You can buy your eggs, milk, fruit, Whole Foods products, the next book on your reading list, makeup sponges and a new phone case all in the same order. Also working in its favor is Amazon’s comparatively advanced system for monitoring said massive inventory, so you’ll know if something is in stock or not—no last-minute surprises.
Fresh Direct has more or less become a household name in New York City over the 19 years it’s been around. Though Fresh Direct won't entice more frugral shoppers, its prices are comparable to the ones you'll see in brick-and-mortar NYC grocery stores. The in-house bakery and partnerships with local farms also mean that the offerings often win points for freshness. Membership is $129 for a year, which includes unlimited deliveries; otherwise, home deliveries within the five boroughs cost $5.99 with a minimum order of $30.
Unlike Fresh Direct or Amazon, Instacart sends out personal shoppers to fetch your items rather than delivering from a massive private inventory. This is a big plus for all the people who can’t live without specific brands. And if something is out of stock, you get an actual human suggesting substitutions. However, many NYC grocery stores already mark up their prices and you’re meant to tip your shopper, too. But if you can't function without your favorite brand of almond butter, the extra money for delivery is probably worth it to avoid those long, shuffling lines at your local market.
For anyone who has been trying to fill the Costco-size void left in after moving to the city, Google Express is here for you. You can order in bulk from stores in your area, including, yes, Costco, along with Fairway, Target, PetSmart and even the Chinese supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market. The minimum purchase required for free delivery varies from store to store, but usually tops out at $25 or $35. Unfortunately, it does not offer perishables like milk, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, but if you’re trying to stockpile dry goods, pet food and a year’s worth of toilet paper, look no further.
Foodkick is Fresh Direct’s mobile app-based extension and was specifically created to fill in the gaps left by other grocery delivery services. It includes most of the food options you’ll find on Fresh Direct, plus additions like chilled bottles of wine, pre-made meals, CSA boxes and cocktail kits. The app is super easy to use, and delivery costs $3.99 with a $20 minimum. Did we mention that your goodies can arrive within the hour if you pay just $2 more?
Founded in 1989, Peapod is the OG NYC grocery delivery service. Since the company's owners also own Stop & Shop, Peapod is basically the Stop & Shop experience moved online. The delivery fee gets cheaper the larger your order ($6.95 for orders over $100), so it’s better to buy in big batches. Overall, Peapod wins for reliability and a thoughtful user experience. For instance, it keeps track of your purchases so you can easily fill your cart with your regular grocery order. You can even save a couple of bucks if you choose a larger delivery window a few days' ahead of time.
Jet is the projected winner for the thrifty New Yorker. Like Amazon, it has its own grocery warehouses from which it makes deliveries instead of using local supermarkets and stores. Unlike Amazon, there’s no equivalent of a pricey membership, just a delivery fee which disappears for orders over $35. But what’s cool about Jet for grocery (and non-grocery) shopping is its dedication to saving you money, which it goes about in an almost gamified way. If you buy certain products together, they cost less. If you opt to waive the free return, you get a discount. It feels like being an audience member on The Oprah Winfrey Show: You get a discount, and you get a discount, and you get a discount!
Though it's primarily used for restaurant delivery and takeout, Seamless also offers grocery delivery from markets, delis, bakeries and bodegas around the city. Handy labels reveal each store's delivery fee and order minimum, so it's easy to see which nearby option will be cheapest. Seamless tends to work with smaller vendors than some of the other services on this list, but that can actually work to your benefit. Since the order minimums are lower, it's a great option if you just need a quart of milk or six-pack of beer delivered.
Since Postmates sends its fleet to nearly every store around the city, it makes deliveries from everywhere from Fairway to Whole Foods. The usual model (charging delivery fees of anywhere from $3.99 to $9.99, depending on the merchant) isn’t the only way to get groceries delivered, though: Lazy shoppers might also want to check out Postmates Fresh, the service’s curated selection of grocery products that can be delivered in as little as half an hour. And if you find yourself ordering from Postmates often, you might want to upgrade to an unlimited membership, which eliminates surge pricing and guarantees free delivery on any order over $20 for the flat fee of $9.99 per month.
Max Delivery is possibly your best option when you need to prep dinner the night of a big dinner party and you just realized your kitchen is empty. That’s because it offers one-hour delivery with the delivery fee refunded if it doesn’t make it to your doorstep within the hour. Max’s prices compete with NYC supermarkets, and though it doesn’t have the largest selection on this list, you can still find some very appealing goodies in its Best of NY section from places like Murray’s Cheese and Balthazar Bakery. Plus, there’s no delivery fee for orders over $125, which is totally doable.
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